Friday, March 25, 2016

The Longest Ride: Movie Review

Romantic drama that checks all the right boxes.

The Longest Ride is Nicholas Sparks’ latest romantic drama to make it to the big screen, and I will still continue to watch them despite last year's The Best of Me being the worst one yet. That was unpleasant, but it’s also one of the exact reasons why it’s worth watching The Longest Ride (for fans of the genre only). No punches were pulled. What you see is what you get, and more importantly, what you wanted is what you get. No macabre twists, no deviations from the brand. Doesn’t that sound pleasant? 2015

Directed by: George Tillman Jr.

Screenplay by: Craig Bolotin
Based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks

Starring: Britt Robertson, Scott Eastwood

It is pleasant. It’s far from ground-breaking, or fascinating, or original, but it’s a sweet, dramatic, pleasant story of a relationship. The Longest Ride is set in North Carolina and features two relationships and conflicting worlds. The main story is that of Sophia (Britt Robertson) a college student ready to move to New York City and make it big in the art world, and Luke (Scott Eastwood) a professional bull-rider who has experienced injury setbacks and either has to come up with a new calling in life or make the big comeback.

The meet-cute occurs when Sophia’s friend and roommate (Melissa Benoist in a small but good performance) convinces her she needs a night out away from the books and take in a typical North Carolina entertainment experience, despite cowboys and bull-riding not being her thing. All the other girls are in their cowboy boots and cowboy hat clamoring for Luke, the local boy who made it big, and they are there to experience his hotness and career comeback. Luke falls for Sophia instead.

One aspect of this film which was really enjoyable was that bull-riding world. It’s a world I know nothing about and whether it was realistic to those in the know or not, it still gave me a taste of it. It’s something unique to keep the viewer interested. And this ties into the fact that the conflict in their relationship is not related to money, ie the rich vs poor thing that Sparks has done in so many of his stories. This conflict, while still very simplistic is different than that, and easier to get behind. It’s city girl vs country boy, but more specifically the refined culture of the art world vs the rural and rugged nature of bull-riding. I was looking forward to watching them figure out how get past their differences, and the ending didn’t disappoint.

The other story is that of Sophia’s friendship with Ira, and old man that she and Luke met after their first night of the bull-riding championship, which leads to flashbacks of Ira’s love affair with his wife from decades ago. This story was reasonably interesting, it can slow the film down at times, but it does have its significance, and it is just another facet to keep the viewer watching.

The Longest Ride is for fans for the romantic drama, and this one very capably checks all the right boxes. Britt Robertson was fantastic as a young girl falling in love and finding her way in life, and it’s those little things that make it a nice, pleasant experience.

Also check out:

The First Time (2012) - Proves that teen romances can be sweet and charming.

Safe Haven (2013) - Tricks us with the type of mystery it was and the lead deserved better.

The Best of Me (2014) - The worst of Nicholas Sparks.